I-League: Mumbai FC face table toppers Mohun Bagan

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Mumbai, May 1 (IANS) Mumbai FC will be determined to produce a strong positive display when they take on league leaders Mohun Bagan in the 20th round of I-League match at the Cooperage ground here on Saturday.

The Mumbai club will have to do something phenomenal if they plan to overcome the formidable Kolkata outfit, who will also be looking to grab all the three points to enhance their points tally as the league approaches the business end.

Mumbai FC are placed in eighth spot with 16 points from from 16 games, while Bagan in pole position with 31 points from 14 games will hope to increase their lead over champions Bengaluru FC who are in second position with 28 points from 15 games.

Despite the absence of coach Khalid Jamil, the Mumbai side enjoyed good outings in the three tough away games, drawing by identical 1-1 margins against East Bengal, Sporting Clube de Goa and Royal Wahingdoh, which has boosted the confidence of the team and the coach is hoping his players can reproduce the same kind of form as they did in the last three games.

Addressing a pre-match media briefing, Jamil, who will be serving the last of his four-match suspension imposed by the All India Football Federation (AIFF), said that he has instructed his team to go all out for a win.

“We are desperate to play for a win. It’s very important that we give our best performance to ensure we get a win. Right from the goalkeeper, midfielders and forwards have to work as a unit,” he said.

“Bagan is a good side and the entire team is really playing very well. We have to perform like we did in the last three games. The morale of the team is very good and the players have to be more positive, make a little extra effort and push harder for a win,” Jamil said.

The major worry for the Mumbai club is that they will continue to miss the service of their most influential and attacking Japanese midfielder Taisuke Matsugae, who is still recovering from an injury.

The dependable and tireless Ashutosh Mehta, who is capable of playing as a defender and midfielder will sit out due to a double booking and will be replaced by either Pradeep Mohanraj or Firoz Mirza.

Brazilian striker Josimar da Silva Martins, who has found his scoring touch scoring in the last game against Wahingdoh, will once again shoulder the burden to lead the Mumbai FC attack.

In defence, reliable stoppers Justine Stephen and Chika Wali along with the wing backs Rahul Bheke and Allan Dias will have to combine effectively to foil Bagan’s potent strike duo of Japanese Katsumi Yusa and Haitian Sony Norde.

Bagan coach Sanjoy Sen also mentioned that they would look for a win but sounded a bit cautious about the home side. “We will try to win. But Mumbai FC is a very good side which is coached by Khalid Jamil who knows how to get the best of his players. They (Mumbai FC) are a very unpredictable team and we have to do our best,” he said.

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